Sunday, October 15, 2017

OCHO!

Highlights:
-REALLY wants to move
-sleeping better at night (but not consistently through the night)
-had his second bout of sickness (Roseola)
-is focused
-has amazing concentration
-great dexterity, picks up food with just two fingers
-eating like a grown man
-went through a growth spurt, we think
-no sign of teeth, yet
-rolling like a pill bug in all directions
-wants to do all activities while standing, but can't stand unassisted yet
-trying to scoot
-started to babble! Says "dada" "mama" "baba" and with the occasional y, n, r, or h sound thrown in
-went to college
-stayed in a hotel for 1st time
-saw the ocean for 1st time
-went on a road trip 1st time
-no more swaddle
-likes to study your face/look deep into your eyes while being held or while being carried in the carrier
-started to recognize he can do things specifically to get attention/make people smile and laugh
-will do things specifically to ^
-likes to read books
-likes to people watch
-tends to be very quiet when other people are around, unless they are in our house (and even then)
-gives kisses
-nursing every 4 hours still
-makes a hilarious "crazy face"
-clingy this month, especially after nap time
-if you are sitting near him while he's playing, he wants to play with whatever it is while in your lap/arms i.e. how dare you not hold him if you are not occupied with a different task
-is okay playing alone if, and only if, he can see me doing something else that seems important (making dinner and cleaning are what fall into this category)
- "I want you to add: his dad loves him more and more every day" -Kyle
-loves to be outside
-loves to eat the car keys and remotes
-his favorite toys (that is actually his and not an adult object) are: chick-fi-a santa cow and a plush little star. Basically, any peluche (stuffed animal)

Ezra is getting ANTSY to move. He really wants to be more mobile than he is currently, but hasn't quite figured out the mechanics. When he is laying next to you on the bed he wants to crawl over your body again and again. He tries to climb when you hold him while sitting down. He wants to be held, but then flails and flings himself about. He is rolling like an old pro now from both back to tummy and tummy to back. He is doing better holding himself up on hands and knees, but eventually will fall to his side. He will go from sitting to hands and knees, but the forward momentum makes him fall forward onto his face. There is this one scoot type thing that seems to be his go to right now where he will roll himself onto his stomach, but not pull his arm out from under him, and then push his bum up in the air and scootch (sp?) his face and pinned arm side against the carpet until he inches forward. He has gotten better at this scoot attempt over the month and can move small distances in this manner. 

favorite jammies. 

Ezra attended his first college class. His first college class at an IvyLeague institution? Not to shabby. Kyle took him with him to class one afternoon so that I could get some studying done. The teacher even picked him up to walk him around the classroom at one point. He didn't mind until the teacher took him into a different room (apparently this classroom has multiple rooms?) and he couldn't see Kyle anymore--then he started to wail, until Kyle came and rescued him of course.

waiting for the bus on their way home

I know as a mother I think certain things are more amazing than other people, but I really do think he is so brilliant! It is so neat to watch him figure things out. For example, he will see a loose thread on a shirt and just lock onto it. Very focused. And then with just his thumb and finger he will reach forward and grasp at it until he can get it. He will find the tiny spec of dirt amongst all his toys on the ground and lock in on just that.

so pensive

Ezra can feed himself! He feeds himself most of his meals each day. We still feed him baby food (purees) by spoon, but he feeds himself the rest. He has eaten everything we've given him without complaint--except for those first bites of rice cereal, of course, he hated those. His favorite foods so far are greek yogurt and pears. This month has been amazing for me to watch this skill develop. He gets better every single day and I think it's remarkable. At the beginning of his 7th month he could barely pick food up and couldn't get it to his mouth unless it was by accident. As these weeks have progressed I've watched him figure something new out each day and refine his skills and it's the best part of being a parent.

A little comparison.....




Friday, September 22, 2017

Sleep Saga

9/16/2017--Night #1: The past three months have been hhaaaarrrrdddd in the nighttime department. I felt like we had tried everything and it just wasn't working. I prayed and prayed that Ezra would just start sleeping already!! I prayed that we would know what to do to help him. We went through peaks and valleys, some nights better, some nights worse. But, I hadn't yet been willing to just let him cry it out during the night time. We had let him cry when we were working on bedtime/naps, but not during the night. {Let the record reflect that he goes down to bed and naps easily, no fuss and has ever since we let him CIO.} You can read in the seven month post where I said I was just unwilling to do that because we shared a room and we need to sleep!!! Plus, it's so sad. I want to comfort my baby when he is hysterically crying. It is good to feel needed.

But then, literal hours after posting his seven month update, I had a moment of clarity. We had put him to bed at seven, like usual. At 10, he started to whimper and wake up. I went in and as I was nursing him I just had this readiness distill upon my soul! I laid him back down, walked out into the living room and said "Tonight's the night." Kyle, knowing exactly what I was referring to, said "Alright. What are we gonna do?" I went in and took him out of his swaddle. Swaddle retired. We cleared our living room floor and brought our mattress to the living room. I went to the store and bought earplugs. We shut both doors between our bedroom and the living room and turned on the oven vent fan--and we let him cry. *note: he was asleep and not actually crying when we went to sleep*

Maybe the answer to my months long prayers wasn't him magically sleeping through the night, but rather the Lord strengthened my resolve to be able to bear it. So last night was the first of our last ditch effort. If this doesn't work than I LITERALLY HAVE NOTHING LEFT TO TRY and will probably perish a sleep deprived shell of a person. Okay, that's a bit dramatic....

I can't tell you how last night went because my earplugs blocked out all the noise amazingly well. This does not mean I slept well ("IS MY BABY OKAY!?"), but I didn't hear a thing. Kyle got up to go in and give him his binky/check on him twice--once at about 1:30 and once at 4 am. I woke up and went back to check on him at 3 am. He was asleep during my check and asleep when we went to bed at 11:00. So, my best guess is that he slept from about 10:30-1:30, 2-4, 4-630 with wake up and cry intervals in between. I went in to get him at 7 am and he greeted me happy as always. He was not forlorn and did not act betrayed. He was hungry though! He also woke up with most of his voice gone. This had been happening over the last couple days so I don't think it was a result of crying away his voice, but what a sad thought :( He slept for 3.5 hours for his nap this morning. That tells me he definitely did not sleep as well or as much as normal, since his morning nap is normally 1.5-2 hours.

Thoughts so far: Ezra did so well un-swaddled! I think he was really ready for that. When he nurses/gets drowsy he reaches up and holds onto his hair/rubs his ears/scratches his head. As soon as I took his swaddle off (he was mostly asleep when I did this) he just reached his little hands up to his head. Let's see what night #2 brings.

9/17/2017--Night #2: Whew. Two nights down. So far, progress. Last night we kept the oven fan off and either of us heard him cry at all. Granted there is a room, hallway and two shut doors between us. He has also lost 70% of his voice so he might've cried and we just didn't hear him. Kyle set an alarm for 2 am to go check on him, in case he never woke up us crying. During the 2 am check he was snoozin' away. We put him to sleep at 6:45 pm and he woke up around 7:20 am. Again, I'm not sure he actually slept for all that time, but YAY!!!! Definite progress has been made, even if that progress is just the recognition by him "I don't need to eat at night" and me "I don't need to feed him at night" !!

In the morning Kyle said "I just don't want him to remember this and feel like we've abandoned him for the rest of his life." Is there any parent in the world who hasn't felt this way while leaving their firstborn alone all night!? Making parenting decisions is hard, mostly because you never really know  whether or not the decision you are making is the correct one. However, Kyle also said this morning "I haven't woken up so quickly on a Sunday morning in a long time. I turned my alarm off immediately and just got out of bed. 'Im so rested!" This is ridiculous, but writing that sentence made me feel a little emotional. I never realized how important sleep was and I just value it so much more now. I feel so genuinely happy when I hear others slept well. I want to hug and sincerely congratulate them. Graduations, weddings, baptisms, births of children and getting a good nights sleep are all part of my "I feel such genuine joy for you" list.

Thoughts: Pretty sure I could feed a village of infants after going 12 hours without nursing.

9/18/2017--Night #3: We put Ezra down at 7. We went to bed at 11 and left both doors between us and Ezra open. I woke up at 6:55 am to his little chirping squeals.  I mean, unless Kyle and I were both really really zonked out and couldn't hear Ezra crying for some reasons, I think we ALL slept through the night!! I haven't slept more than 4 hours at a time in MONTHS. Hopefully we have turned a corner and this wasn't just a fluke. I am feeling unbelievably grateful today.

Thoughts: I feel like a new woman! I got up and ate breakfast, went to the gym, came home and played with Z happily (not tired/grumpily) for a good while. I feel GREAT. 

9/22/2017--Ezra has slept through the night this whole week! *chorus of angels.* He has done so so well. We moved our bed back to our room on Monday night. We still swaddle during naps, but he goes un-swaddled at bed (you think it would be the opposite?) He has been waking up for the past few days at like 6/630 and wanting to eat, but also still being pretty sleepy. For example, he got up at 6:40 this morning and I got him out of his crib and brought him to our bed. I nursed him in bed and then he was just laying there cuddling and kicking his legs. Since it is 7 am, and I'm pretty much awake, I think "I'll take him out to the living room and let Kyle sleep a little bit." (Since Kyle is the one who wakes up with him everrrrrry morning) So I take him out to the living room and by 7:30 he is asleep on his play mat. I pick him up, he's awake now, and I go back to the bed and lay down cuddling with him. He's just snuggling and pulling at my hair, but clearly not going to go to sleep with me there. At this point, for some reason, I am like overcome with a wave of sleepiness. So, I leave him in the bed with sleeping Kyle and go out to the couch so catch a few more z's, Five minutes later I can hear him squealing, which means I can't sleep, and I go in, flop on the bed, and grumpily say "UGHHHH Just put him on the ground to play or something if he's awake!!" Kyle, responding to my out-of-nowhere-attitude says "I just woke up babe, but I will." to which I lament "I'm just so tired, why do babies make so much noise!?" I'm charming in the morning, if you can't tell. Kyle, graceful as ever, tells me to go back out to the couch and get some more sleep. I inform him that Ezra will be ready for a nap at 8:30 if he doesn't fall asleep before that and march to the living room. Kyle comes out to the living room and wakes me up at 9:30. Ezra went to sleep at 8:30 and slept until a little after 10. The point of my story is: He is sleeping through the night! YAYYYY! Now, we need to figure out mornings.....

Thoughts: I'm so grateful he is sleeping! Kyle and I are both learning though that our bodies are like "Ohhhhh, right, sleep, I remember this" and while we have gotten more sleep at night this week than in the last like 3 months combined, we are even more tired. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Seven Months


Highlights:
-whines/whimpers with his mouth closed (new trick this month)
-naps great
-wakes up every 4-6 hours on a typical night
-eating all the food
-rolls over proficiently from tummy to back
-has pushed up onto hands and knees a handful of times
-had/has a viral infection (Roseola) poor rashy baby :((
-dive bombs my chest now when hungry and just nuzzles his face against me until I feed him
-loves making noises by banging him arms/hands against toys and various surfaces
-proficient wiggler
-started sitting in the shopping cart
-Obsessed with bath drain/bath plug
-loves snuggling with his blanket
-the pacifier is his one true love
-recognizes his name 


We're having a hard time with nighttime sleep. He wakes up at least twice a night to eat. Usually he goes back to sleep easily and well. But, I am still nursing him when he wakes up. I just don't know what to do to help him sleep better. I am unwilling at this point to completely stop nursing him, because WE need to sleep. He's in our room. If we let him just wail until he falls back asleep, we won't sleep at all. I seriously need at least two, two hour stretches of sleep for my personal sanity (I'm talking just borderline being able to function as a human being) and I won't sleep if I can hear him making any noise. So, that isn't an option. BUT THERE ARE NO OTHER OPTIONS. *crying emoji* What are we supposed to do to help him?? We are seriously at a loss....I keep thinking "One day, he will be 14 and won't want to get up for seminary and i'll miss this" but right now I need to sleep....you know what I mean? 

In other news, he is eating great. We will probably start doing more this month, but right now we do one main 'meal' a day. He eats everything well. I typically have some baby-type foods for him each meal (cheerios, pureed veggies/fruits, yogurt melts) but also make sure he has bites of just whatever we are eating for dinner (tomato soup, mashed potatoes, ground turkey, bits of chicken, asparagus, hummus, etc.) He will eat whatever we give him right now with very minimal gagging. In fact, when we first gave him a cheerio, which was his first really solid thing, I was amazed by how immediately he started to chew. There was no chewing learning curve for this one. He hasn't figured out, however, how to bring the foods to him own mouth. He will pick the food up, but won't bring it to his mouth to eat. So, right now, we are doing all the feeding. He just opens his mouth up like a well trained baby bird.

This one is actually from right before he turned 6 months, but too cute not to include. 


This is Omar; our friend from Djibouti, Africa. He speaks french, arabic, somali, and english. He is the most wonderful, kind soul--so full of light!! He only refers to Ezra as "My Ezra" but with his beautiful french accent, of course. He would've held him the whole day. He just bounced him around and sang him songs in Arabic. Ezra loves him. We met Omar two years ago and I have tried to be more like him ever since, but I don't think I can be! He is TRULY one of a kind.  


If this isn't exactly what church is about; what is it about? Hopefully no one scolds me for talking a picture during sacrament meeting, but I needed to memorialize this moment.


A rather cheery-o babe. Also, my new favorite picture. 


Window gazing, a favorite hobby








Friday, September 8, 2017

Lighthouse

On Labor Day I really wanted to go to the NY State Fair. That just seemed like a once in a lifetime experience, ya know? Both Kyle and I were disappointed when our plans didn't work out. In order to encourage ourselves so we didn't wallow in the pity of our missed plans, we decide to a-d-v-e-n-t-u-r-e! 

Last week when I was on a walk with Ezra I noticed this little lighthouse in Cayuga Lake. I had never noticed it before. There was a small stretch of land leading to the lighthouse, but I could not figure out where it came from! I told Kyle about it and we decided to use our Labor Day in pursuit of it. WE discovered that we had to walk across a gold course, and then hike through this hidden trail that was behind this industrial storage box thing. The trail had forest on one side and the lake on the other. We finally made it to the end of the trail and there was a wobbly rock path through shallow water leading to a concrete wall type structure. We climbed up and walked along the narrow concrete wall until  we made it to the little white lighthouse. It was beautiful! 














Sunday, August 20, 2017

Recipe Dump #1

Food inspiration. We all want it.

I spend a good amount of my time each week thinking about meals, planning meals, buying groceries for meals and preparing meals. MEALS. I really enjoy cooking,  but I think I enjoy reading recipes and planning them out the most. I could read food blogs all day. 

This is not, nor will ever be a food blog. But, since I spend so much time looking for and trying recipes, I figured I might as well share the good ones with you, my devoted readers. Shoutout to all five of you! (Okay maybe a few more than five, but not by much.) Maybe there is someone reading who, like me, just needs some food inspo week after week. 

I like meals that are easy and filling, while being balanced. So here are some of my favorite go-tos:

#1: Kielbasa and roasted veggies

Kielbasa is my weakness. I try to only make this on occasion because I am kind of on a eat less meat but-especially-processed-meats kick. Use whatever veggies you have on hand--broccoli, sweet potatoes, red potatoes, asparagus, peppers, onions, squash. Chop. Toss in a little garlic and olive oil. Roast in oven until veggies are to your desired tenderness. You can health it up slightly more by using chicken sausage, but I warn against this because kielbasa is just too delicious to replace. 

#2: Red Beans and Rice/American Feijoada 

Chop up a bell pepper or two. Sauté in a pan with some garlic and olive oil. Add in sliced kielbasa (I should write sonnets about kielbasa). Cook until delicious looking--you'll know when that is. Pour in a can (or two) of kidney beans. Let it simmer together for a hot minute. Serve over rice. Im sure lovers of true red beans and rice and lovers of real feijoada find my version a complete travesty. To those people, I apologize. The real recipe: https://www.melskitchencafe.com/slow-cooker-red-beans-and-rice-with-chicken-sausage/

#3: Homemade Hamburger Helper

Hear me out on this one. I hear the words "Hamburger Helper" and want to flee, but this recipe from The Recipe Rebel has so much good stuff packed in (if you can get passed the cups of cheese and milk...just don't think about it.) I swap out hamburger for ground turkey and opt for whole wheat pasta. Plus a whole bell pepper (instead of half) and lots of fresh chopped spinach--yummy ONE POT dinner. Just try it. http://www.thereciperebel.com/easy-homemade-hamburger-helper/

#4: Cowboy Chopped Salad

Protip: buy pre-made pico de gallo. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/cowboy-chopped-salad-3111102

#5: Chicken Cakes

Just don't think of that terrible name. Imagine a crab cake--YUM--but with chicken instead (Sigh: price tag). These are one of our favorite meals. I try not to think about the sodium content in canned chicken. Don't read the label. https://www.melissassouthernstylekitchen.com/chicken-cakes-remoulade-sauce/

#6: Carnitas

Mel's Kitchen Cafe, my one true love. https://www.melskitchencafe.com/slow-cooker-pork-carnitas/

#7: Portillo's Chop Salad

https://www.melskitchencafe.com/portillos-chopped-salad-with-sweet-italian-dressing/

#8: Chicken, Leek and Brie Pie

You can even leave the brie out if you want to. This is so easy and sounds (and looks) so fancy. Eat it.  I omit the white wine and have added in mushrooms for a little extra veg. You can add a little lemon juice for the acidity you lose from the white wine. http://www.almondtozest.com/chicken-leek-brie-pie/

#9: Whipped Feta

I ate this so often two years ago that I had to take a little break from it for a while. This was my go-to dinner when Kyle was gone for the weekend with basketball because it was too light for him, but my  idea of a perfect meal. I'm dreaming of days post-nursing when I can eat dairy again for this and this alone. Whipped feta, a crusty loaf of bread, sliced cucumber, roasted garlic basil tomatoes, kalamata olives. YESSSS. http://www.howsweeteats.com/2013/02/how-to-make-amazing-whipped-feta/#_a5y_p=2289655

#10 Greek Salad 

http://www.howsweeteats.com/2015/03/my-favorite-greek-salad-with-homemade-whole-wheat-pita/

#11 Coconut Thai Curry

Sometimes I add chicken, sometimes we just do veggies: zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, onion, carrots. Serve over brown rice. Relish in the easiest weeknight meal. http://www.tasteslovely.com/coconut-chicken-thai-curry/

What are your go to's?

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Half

Stats:
Weight: about 17 lbs
Height: about 27 inches
Clothing: 3-6 Months
Diapers: Size 3

Highlights:
-started on solids
-learned he can lay his head down and rest while on his stomach (an amazing discovery for him)
-LOVES the exersaucer
-crazy strong legs (and body in general)
-will take a few steps if you hold his hands to balance him
-knows how to roll over, but just is not interested in the least
-will get his knees and feet under him and push his bum into the air to inch himself forward
-extra snuggly this month <3
-started to coo high pitched long "notes" when the piano starts playing or you start singing, loves music
-Gets F-U-S-S-Y/cranky/grumpy when overtired, but can go forever without eating and be pretty happy
-Learned how to gasp and does so often, made me think he was choking at first
-So smiley and giggly, just a happy babe :)
-Very ticklish armpits
-SCRATCHING
-can sit up on his own, but is still a bit wobbly
-can pick up pacifier and put it in his own mouth
- ^will find his pacifier amongst all toys to put in his mouth
-likes, but can't quite figure out, shadows
-wiggles on the floor like a snake when excited (our new favorite thing he does)
-kicks his feet while in his carseat like a madman
-kicks like a madman when he is excited, whether in the carseat or not
-wakes up every 3-5 hours during the night to eat, but, for now, goes right back to sleep (like he did before that 4 month regression, hallelujah)
-thinks Kyle is the funniest

<3

Scratching. We should all probably start calling Ezra "Scratch" as a nickname. Maybe that can be his athlete nickname: Ezra "The Scratch" Brown. I do not know when or why he discovered that opening and closing fist motion, or why it is so riveting, but Ezra is a little scratcher. When he nurses, he reaches up and scratches his head (sometimes with too much vigor and bleeds...). When falling asleep he will reach up and do that scratch motion to his pacifier, which just makes that handle part of the pinky flip up and down over and over again. I usually know when he is about to fall asleep in the car because all of a sudden I hear "click, click, click" as he scratch-flips that binky-end over and over again. He scratches at books. He scratches the couch. He scratches walls. He scratches clothes. He scratches skin. He particularly like to reach up and scratch at faces. I know he is just fine tuning his pincher skills for picking up toys, food and other objects, but right now, this little scratch is pretty cute. Also, sometimes it hurts, but, mostly it is just cute.


         Ezra and 3-Month-To-The-Day younger cousin, Zackary

We really started to notice this month how tough Ezra is. He has a pretty high pain tolerance. There have been so many times when I've done something on accident (scratched him, bumped his head, dropped something on him, etc.) where he should've cried, reacted, ANYTHING. And he just kept doing what he's doing like nothing ever happened. In fact he usually looks at me with this ''What happened? Why do you look so concerned, Mom?" He's just TOUGH. Funny story: I had just been telling my brother, who was visiting, how tough Ezra was. Then a couple hours later, Z was laying next to me and I put my drinking glass, which was filled with ice water, on his foot and he SCREAMED in opposition. HA. So, very tough--but don't you go putting cold things on his feet.

We started solids! We thought we wouldn't start until 6 months, but when trying to decide what we could do to help him sleep better, and after trying so many different things, we felt like maybe he needed a little more substance--solids it was. I was very into the baby-led weaning method, but we scrapped that idea for our bitty babe and just decided to do baby purees. He was not big enough for solid whole foods yet. Sometimes you need to adjust your parenting philosophies to fit your child's needs.

He was not so sure about solids at first. In fact, he really hated rice cereal. For the first week, we tried rice cereal mixed with breastmilk and he was just NOT having it. Then we did some carrots and he ate those with more gusto. I even tried mixing the carrots and rice cereal, but he rejected the ones with rice cereal every time. It took him about two weeks to really figure out how to open his mouth for bites and that solid foods were yummy and not deadly. He eats much better now. He loves loves loves greek yogurt. Plain or flavored, he ain't picky. He gagged on everything at first, and then just on things that were not perfectly smooth. In the last few days, he has gotten better at handling foods with a bit more texture and doesn't always gag when there is a lump or bump while eating. He has even gnawed on some crackers and such. We will head into more whole foods this month as he learns to pick up things better. 



Post nursing sweaty hairdo 



Monday, August 7, 2017

To My Sisters

I've wanted to write this blog post for a long time. I have difficulty writing or being public with things, however, that seem so special and important to me. I want to keep them close to my heart. I don't want to "cast my pearls before swine", so to say. Not that you guys are swine. There are few things more hurtful, to me, than sharing something I find particularly meaningful and having someone treat it with frivolity.

But the time has come! 

When Ezra was born I was overcome with a deep deep painful hopelessness. Maybe it was postpartum depression. Maybe it was sheer, unfathomable exhaustion. Maybe it was my already overactive anxiety. Maybe it was a mix of all three. Nonetheless, the first two weeks of Ezra's life I was in a place took me a long time to find words for. Nothing seemed adequate enough to explain the _______. I still don't have a word to fill in there. To the best of my ability, I would describe it, as the scriptures say, "the gulf of misery and endless wo." Never before had I felt something so devoid of hope. I've since decided that having a lack of hope is the very definition of hell. 

But then there were my sisters. 

I truly believe, to the very core of my being, that my sister Kirstin saved my very life when she suggested I take a Benadryl to get some sleep. I had not slept more than three hours (total) in five days. It sounds so silly to say out loud. But, that moment is when things started to turn around. Benadryl. A simple suggestion from a veteran mom. 

My sweet, angelic sisters. They sacrificed time with their families to come and clean MY house, cook ME food, watch ridiculous amounts of television, change diapers, lose sleep, love me, be my friend, and most importantly love that sweet baby of mine. The time they spent, during a time when I felt so removed from all sense of normal feeling, is sacred to me. I needed them, then, more than I could've ever expressed at the time and more than I can express now. They filled a role that wasn't theirs to fill--that of a mother, for a daughter whose own could not be there. 

I love them. Thank you Lindsey and Kirstin for teaching me what Christlike service looks like and imparting a small measure of salvation for my aching soul.